New from Sportourer: Touch Beat HR Watch

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The Sportourer Touch Beat is a watch that neatly conceals a heart rate monitor into the face of the watch which means you don’t have to use a chest strap sensor to measure your heart rate. Although the Sportourer Touch Beat won’t hit the stores until late February or early March, I was fortunate to receive one for testing not too long ago.

True to is origins, the Touch Beat oozes Italian style and blends form and function seamlessly. The watch cover doubles as the heart rate sensor and is made of brushed, finished stainless steel and a durable high grade polycarbonate case designed to withstand the vibrations that come from riding or running. The dial face consists of a scratch-resistant mineral lens while the band is hypoallergenic-quality polyurethane with a brushed finish to match the stainless steel. You also get an adjustable chest transmitter (5kHz) for continuous heart rate monitoring that has an easily accessible battery.

The Touch Beat not only tells the time and your heart rate – it also includes a date feature, an alarm, a countdown timer, calorie counter, and a stop watch. The great thing about this is that all these features can run independently of each other and switching between them will not effect the function of the others (great when you’re timing yourself while doing a lap on a XC circuit all the while monitoring your heart rate and calculating calories). In heart rate mode, the Touch Beat will calculate your average heart rate, calories burned, and max/min rates. Super athletes like Lance Armstrong swear by heart rate monitoring and you can plug in your post workout data into training tools like the singletracks ride log to map your progress.

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Looking at the face of the watch you can see graduated numbers along the edge ranging from 30 – 240 bpm and a quarter of the numbers are green. This green range is ideal for fitness training (115- 175bpm). The digital display illuminates a bar graph making it easy to see your heart rate at a glance (plus there’s also an exact digital HR reading in the center). When the lighting is low you can also illuminate the watch display by touching the reset and start/stop buttons. The watch hands and hour markers are also fluorescent which allows you to get the time at a glance in the dark. Between the hours of 4pm and 6pm the digital HR readout is partially obscured by the watch hand but I found this wasn’t a huge issue.

Although the Touch Beat is water resistant to 50 meters, Sportourer doesn’t recommend pushing the buttons while the watch is submerged. Not to worry, this watch is good to go in sweaty or wet conditions.

Using the Touch Beat

After using the Touch Beat for several weeks now, I have to say it’s been a great addition to my training. Once I learned the menus (keep the operation guide handy for a week or two), the Touch Beat seems to encourage me to train with it all the time and it’s super easy to use. Even without looking at the watch, I can tell if I’m in my cardio range: there’s a single beep when I hit 115 BPM and a double beep indicating my max heart rate (calculated using my age).

Now to get data like the calorie count, you’ll need to use the included chest strap. The strap is actually very convenient considering the alternative: bringing your hand across the handlebars to touch the watch face to get a heart rate (plus the touch measurement isn’t continuous). For running or flat riding the touch surface is fine but on the bike I prefer to use the strap. Fortunately the chest sensor is so slim that it hasn’t bothered me or caught on my clothing, even when wearing a tight jersey.

For $179.99 MSRP this is a nice tool to help you keep track of your calorie burn and heart rate on the bike or on the run. Just as important, it looks like a million bucks so you can wear it all day long. Look for the Touch Beat in your local bike shop this spring!

Specs

Dimensions: 51mm x 47mm
Weight: 68 gr.
Accuracy: 15 sec/month
Case: Steel/Resin
Wrist Band: Rubber
Battery: CR 2032
HR Range: 30 240
Accuracy: 1 bpm
Water Resistant: 50mt. (5atm)

Thanks to the folks at Sportourer for the Touch Beat watch for a review.